NLL is thinking big

RYAN WOLSTAT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

It appears that starting next season, Toronto will no longer be the National Lacrosse League's biggest market.

The league is in the process of working out final details and aims in the next month to announce plans to expand by two teams for the 2007 season.

"We're going to put one in Chicago and one in New York," a league source said yesterday.

According to Nielsen Media Research, New York is the largest market in the United States, while Chicago ranks third, behind Los Angeles.

This fall, the NLL signed a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with Reebok and adding teams in cities as prominent as New York and Chicago should do wonders for the continued marketing and growth of the league.

However, the NLL's previous foray into the New York City area was not a rousing success.

The New York Saints played at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., from 1997 to 2003 before becoming inactive.

It is unclear whether the Saints will be taken out of mothballs, or if the New York team will be a brand new franchise.

The NLL has a close relationship with NHL teams. Seven teams have NHL ties, so a partnership with the Blackhawks, Rangers or Islanders is possible.

This season, the NLL has introduced two new squads via expansion, the Edmonton Rush and Portland Lumberjax and reception to both teams has been positive.

The Rush drew 11,385 to Rexall Place on Friday for their debut, while Portland recently attracted over 10,000 spectators to an intra-squad game and expect a large crowd for their first home game later this month.


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